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MANicure Guide

I often see advice for interviews, dates, and important events include that men should have “clipped nails”. Unfortunately, in terms of modern grooming standards, simply clipping one’s nails is no longer enough.

That being said, you don’t have to drop $40 on an actual manicure to have decent looking nails. In this guide, we will share how to use basic tools and 5-10 minutes every 5 days to make sure you have clean, neat and presentable nails. There’s nothing girly about it.

Prince Charles is famous for his style, but his nails leave something to be desired

Prince Charles is famous for his style, but his nails are often ragged and unkempt

Why Men Need A Decent Manicure

Since the vast majority of men no longer work in physical occupations, there’s not much excuse to have gnarly, dirty nails. You may not pay that much attention to them, but other people certainly see them. Your nails are clearly visible in presentations, eating, drinking, and shaking hands. In short, people will notice and judge you for it. Thankfully, nail grooming can either be outsourced completely to a salon, many of which cater exclusively to men, or you can do it yourself with the right tools in less than 10 minutes.

Prince William is much better at keeping his nails neat than his father

Prince William is much better at keeping his nails neat

Tools

How to Give Yourself a Decent MANicure

For this, you will need a simple nail kit, such as this one here. The German-made tools included in this kit come from Solingen, the town famous for centuries of blade production. The clippers are powerful, and the cuticle clipper is small and accurate. This kit is perfect for traveling, as it is TSA approved and compactly sized for travel. For the Basic Plus Manicure, you’ll need a simple nail kit plus a large double-sided nail file, a buffing block, and a cuticle pusher.

 

Basic Manicure

  1. Step 1: Using a clipper, trim nails so that a slim border of white nail remains. Clip in small sections so that the trimmed nail follows the natural curve of your nail.
  2. Step 2: Using the cuticle clipper, trim any obvious hangnails (a torn bit of skin around the nail) flush against the skin as well as any dry skin around the nail bed. Do not trim intact cuticles; this will only cause a vicious cycle of trimming, drying, and then again trimming, etc.
  3. Step 3: Hold the rougher side of the nail file perpendicular to the nail and file the nail in gentle motions to smooth any rough or pointy edges. Then, flip the file to the finer side and repeat the process.
    1. Optional Step: If the nail still feels rough along the top edge, hold the fine side of the file at a 45-degree angle to the top of the nail edge and pull down and away in gentle, short, single strokes. This will round the top edge.
  4. Step 4: Use the pointed end of the nail file to clean out dirt from under the nail. If you find that’s not enough, you can use an old toothbrush and some soap to scrub it out.

Basic Plus+ Manicure

The process for the Basic Plus manicure is very similar to the previous method, but a separate, larger set of files and tools will give you more grip and control.

  1. Step 1: Using a clipper, trim nails so that a slim border of white nail remains. Clip in small sections so that the trimmed nail follows the natural curve of your nail.
    1. Optional Step: Soak fingers in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes; dry hands and proceed to step 2.
  2. Step 2: Using the cuticle pusher, gently push back your cuticles. Use the opposite end of the cuticle pusher to sweep away any dry skin or dirt that has collected around the cuticle of the nail.
  3. Step 3: Using the cuticle clipper, trim any obvious hangnails (a torn bit of skin around the nail) flush against the skin as well as any dry skin around the nail bed. Do not trim intact cuticles; this will only cause a vicious cycle of trimming, drying, and then again trimming, etc.
  4. Step 4: Hold the rougher side of the large nail file perpendicular to the nail and file the nail in gentle motions to smooth any rough or pointy edges. Then, flip the file to the finer side and repeat the process. Using a large two-sided file will be easier since there is more filing surface area to hold and file with.
  5. Step 5: To round the top edge of the nail, position the fine grit side of the buffing block at a 45-degree angle to the top of the nail edge and pull down and away in gentle, short, single strokes. Again, the buffing block is larger and therefore easier to hold, giving you more control than a small file.
  6. Step 6: Use the pointed end of the cuticle pusher to clean out dirt from under the nail.
Nail biting is a hard habit to break

Nail biting is a hard habit to break

Common Nail Ailments

Getting a clean-looking manicure may be a challenge if your nails have underlying issues that affect their appearance. While we won’t go into much medical detail here, it is important to note that many nail irregularities can be symptoms or side effects of larger health problems that should be addressed with your personal physician.

Biting

Biting of the nails or cuticles can be an incredibly hard habit to break, but for many adults who suffer the compulsion to bite, it is both painful and embarrassing. Bitten nails and cuticles are often overly short, ragged, reddened around the edges, and prone to infection. Biting typically starts in childhood and fades with age, but for adult biters it can be an intense and subconscious habit that stems from stress, anxiety, or boredom.

The first step to stop biting your nails is to decide you want to stop, and why. Do you want to finally have presentable hands and nails? Do you want to stop letting the habit have power over you? Whatever it may be, it is the most important first step. The second step to commit to stopping. Snapping a rubber band worn on the wrist can help redirect attention away from your nails. Aside from willpower, tools such as bitter-tasting nail coatings such as Mavala can help remind you to stop biting.

Cracked Cuticles

The main problem with cracked or peeling cuticles relates to moisture – they are simply too dry, and things like cold weather, dry air, and frequent hand washing contribute to stripping the natural protective oils from around your nails.

To promote healing, you need to first stop any activities that may make the cracking worse, such as over-clipping and picking. Second, add moisture in the form of a hand cream such as Jack Black Industrial Hand Healer, concentrating the cream around the nail beds. Only persistent moisture will help them crack and break less.

Discoloration or Yellowing

Discoloration can occur under the nail bed after an injury. Bruises under the nail simply need time to heal, while yellow discoloration should be taken a bit more seriously. It can indicate a range of conditions from a fungal infection to chronic disease, but it could also be attributed to medication or a simple vitamin deficiency. In the case of nail discoloration or yellowing, it’s best to check with your physician.

Grooves, Ridges, Lifting or Splitting

All of these conditions describe an underlying issue with the nail or your overall health. Brittleness and splitting can often be attributed to repeated wetting and drying of the hands or dry winter air, so if this is your issue, start by wearing gloves where possible and stocking up on the aforementioned hand cream. The vitamin Biotin is often purported to support strong hair and nails, but note that vitamins are not well regulated and the evidence is anecdotal.

Ridges are not indicative of a health problem, and they are mostly a factor of aging. Lifting nails can occur for many reasons ranging from injury and skin conditions to more serious afflictions, so it’s best to check with your doctor.

Recommended ProductsPrice
Fort Belvedere Men's Manicure Set Travel Kit$$
MAKARTT Double Sided Emery Board$
Onwon Buffing Block Nail Files$
Nghia Professional Stainless Steel Deluxe Cuticle Pusher$
Mavala Stop$
Jack Black Industrial Strength Hand Healer$
Vitamin Biotin$

Conclusion

We hope this guide helps you get great looking nails with minimal fuss.

 

Summary
MANicure Guide
Article Name
MANicure Guide
Description
A guide to men's nail care; how to achieve neat nails, & a step by step guide to the perfect manicure.
Author
Publisher
Gentleman's Gazette LLC
Publisher Logo
9 replies
  1. J Thomas Barnhart says:

    This is a great article. A topic men should visit.

    Living in San Francisco I relatively regularly get my nails tended to at around $15. Men don’t need polish so salons charge much less.

    Check out your local places.

    The gals really appreciate well tended nails, especially toenails.

  2. Colin says:

    Great article! People might not notice great hygiene, but they will assuredly notice bad hygiene.

    The only thing i would add to this is that if you work on your nails right after you get out of the shower or tub, your nails will be much softer and easier to work with. I find I get better results when my nails are soft, too.

  3. Franz J says:

    Before listening to this article, I couldn’t help but stare at the picture and think, “those are professionally done”. As always, another job well done

  4. Forrest says:

    I bit my nails for years. Could have been all three issues above. I started going to a nail salon. That helped me. I figured I wasn’t going to spend money on my nails and then maul them. I met another man at the salon one who had a similar history. His initial remedy consisted in taking anti anxiety medication after going through a financial crises.
    Thanks for providing assistance in this article. Well done!

  5. W.F.B. says:

    Very nice 411 for the DIY manicurist, but surely H.R.H. Prince Charles and H.R.H. Prince William should know it’s not de rigeuer to sport a chronograph or a diver’s watch when wearing a dark suit snd white linen with French cuffs, or at least according to your advisories elsewhere in this series. Tsk tsk.

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